[23rd of December, 2740 AD; The Royal Kingdom of Thekohn – Inside Thedam Castle Hall]
The snow continued to fall from the sky as Sorin looked out the window. He and Gale spent the night bundled together in bed as he tried to take his mind off of the past couple of days. At least for now he could relax, Sorin thought. For how long, though, was another story and one that Sorin would have to answer to if he were to make it out of this mess Foundation had created. There did not exist any doubt in Sorin’s mind that this was just the beginning. As Foundation was the one behind Chancellor Harring’s death, Sorin had to wonder when, not if, they would devise their next attack. Sorin worried that the Royal Kingdom of Thekohn may become the next target, but he was confident that he and Rain would form a strategy for any and all attacks that could come their way.
“You know, I’ve never seen this much snow before,” Gale said. “At least for as long as I’ve lived, it’s never snowed quite this much.”
“It really is something, isn’t it?” Sorin asked.
“To be honest, I’ve always enjoyed cold weather,” Gale replied. “I kind of want to go down there and walk around and leave footprints.”
“Yeah, it sounds kind of fun,” Sorin said.
Truth be told, Sorin did not mind the cold, but the snow was a different story. When he worked with his father’s friend Raymohnd Smith, Sorin found the snow to be rather bothersome and had always made trips to and from cities to be excruciating. Though now that he was traveling alongside Gale, Sorin found the snow to be much more of a delight than a burden.
“There’s also other things that are more fun when it’s cold,” she said. “I’ve never been held so tightly like you did last night…”
“Oh, yeah, of course,” Sorin said.
“It’s just times like that take my mind off of what’s happened,” Gale said. “You agree, don’t you?”
“I do,” Sorin replied. “Being with you has made happier, that much I can say. Even now, of all times, I feel happiest when I’m with you.”
Gale hugged Sorin. “And I can say the same,” she said. “It’s been hard to express how I’ve felt over the years, which is why I felt it tough to open up to anyone, much less towards someone I loved. That’s why I’m so relieved to hear you say that to me, Sorin.”
Sorin rested his hand on Gale’s back. “Well, it’ll be relieving once this is all over,” he said, “But until then, I won’t leave you. I promise you that no matter what may happen, I will make it through for you.”
He spent a few more moments with Gale close to him. So many people that Sorin could count on, but one person above all else provided him the motivation to keep moving forward. He knew he had given himself an expectation that may prove to be tough to follow, but Sorin knew that he had to fight in order to make sure the future was clear. Any obstacle in his way, Sorin would confront it head on without a doubt in his mind.
“So, I guess we should go downstairs, right?” Sorin asked. “I think Storm said there would be a big breakfast waiting for us.”
“She did say that, didn’t she,” Gale said. “Let’s go and see what they made for us, then.”
They made their way downstairs and towards the dining room where both Storm and Rado waited for them. Indeed, it was as Storm had said last night as a bountiful breakfast awaited Sorin and Gale as they took their seats next to each other. Storm smiled as the two took their share of omelette and pastries, while Rado was busy eating his share of food.
“I’m so glad to see you two are happy,” Storm said.
“I’m glad to see you,” Gale said. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it? How have you been?”
“Well, I have been keeping up with my studies,” Storm replied. “There is so much that I’ve learned in the past couple of months considering all that my sister has gone through.”
“Yeah, it’s been rough,” Sorin said.
“She mentioned to me last night that there seemed to be some sort of deal between Queen Amelia and that Mr. Kunigunde,” Storm said. “He’s the one who was aiding my mother, was he not?”
“That’s correct,” Gale said. “She was being used by him.”
“I see,” Storm said. “If only I knew beforehand about it, then maybe mother would still be here today. Maybe she wouldn’t need to turn to that man’s help and sacrifice everything…”
“It’s already done, Your Highness,” Rado said. “Isla made her choice. Now she pays for her sins.”
Storm looked down at her plate. “I guess so,” she replied. “She is fortunate that she’s still alive after what she did. Even if she wanted to kill Rain and I, it is still hard to completely forget about her. Is that a bad thing?”
“It’s difficult,” Rado replied. “Family is tough to disregard, especially ones who you know for so long. But sometimes you must know to let go.”
“Maybe a day comes when that happens,” Storm said. “How about you, Gale? Mr. Kunigunde is your father, right?”
“He may be in name, but I never had much of a connection to him,” Gale answered. “I don’t have any guilt in my heart when I say that I hate him.”
Rado pushed the cleaned off plate forward. “Easy to understand,” he said. “I know Isaac. Have since the war. He supplied weapons, took the money, and ran. That’s it. He cares only about himself.”
“Do you happen to know about him before the war?” Sorin asked. “Perhaps there’s something we don’t know.”
“Nothing personal,” Rado replied. “But I hear he looked up to Rohan even though he’s older.”
“If anything, he sees Rohan as a tool,” Gale said. “That’s what it seems like to me.”
“Maybe so, maybe so,” Rado said. “Isaac has two faces: one of the public, and the real face. We saw the real Isaac.”
“I’m just worried about Rohan,” Gale replied. “I can’t even begin to imagine what he’s thinking right now.”
“It’s difficult for me to say since I don’t know him,” Storm said, “But I think you have to believe in him.”
“I do,” Gale said. “He has been nothing short of nice to me for all of these years. I would never turn away from him after what he’s done for me.”
“We will see about the general,” Rado said. “He has much aspirations that I am sure he will want to keep. If it is a choice, Gale, will you believe in him?”
“You’re asking me if will believe in him?” Gale asked. “I said that I believed in him, didn’t I?”
Rado shook his head. “For now,” he replied. “But a person can change. Even Rohan. I ask because he holds the third highest rank in Ameci. Something were to happen to Bradley? Rohan’s next man up.”
“So you think that he’s trying to climb the ranks?” Storm asked.
“It has to be Isaac,” Gale said. “It would be as close as he could get to such power and he has the means to do it if he wanted.”
“You keep mentioning Isaac,” Rado said. “He’s a problem, yes. He’s not what I speak of, though. I don’t doubt that Rohan’s thinking about it, too.”
“It’s likely,” Sorin said. “Then again, he’s been awfully quiet. I wonder if that means anything.”
“One can change if they are promised power or wealth,” Rado said, “Or it reveals their true self. Isaac places the idea in Rohan’s mind and walks away. It’s then Rohan who ponders it. Does it change him or is it who he’s always been? If you ask me, I say it’s changed him.”
“I just have trouble believing that,” Gale replied. “Even if Isaac offers him the world, I doubt Rohan would take it if it meant others would get hurt.”
“You can believe, but I’ve seen good men turn bad once their wallets weigh them down,” Rado said. “They start out protecting others, but only hold regard for themselves once they’ve got pay.”
“No matter what it is, I pray that Gale will not have to worry about that,” Storm said. “If he’s as Gale says, then I doubt Rohan would change because he is offered power.”
“It’s not bad to hope, Your Highness,” Rado replied. “But you also know that it has happened before. Your mother, she turned. She went bad because Isaac had promised her power as well. She did what she could to have it.”
“That is true,” Storm said. “But even so, I still want to believe.”
“Be hopeful, not foolish,” Rado said.
“It’s best if we continue with what to do next,” Sorin said. “We can talk and talk about General Fercewend all we want, but it won’t change the fact that Isaac is still our top priority.”
“That is right,” Rado said. “We get nowhere if we keep talking. It’s time for action. That means we must move soon.”
“Are we moving already?” Storm asked. “There’s not many places we can go…”
Rado guffawed. “Ah, I speak in metaphor,” he said. “We must plan ahead or else we suffer consequences. That Foundation and Isaac will be looking here soon if we don’t plan.”
“Well, why don’t we do that?” Sorin asked. “I’m done with breakfast. What about you guys?”
“Do you ask?” Rado asked. “I am done.”
“I guess I wasn’t as hungry as I thought,” Gale said as she looked down at her plate, still full of food. “Oh well.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it, Gale,” Storm said. “We can have lunch together and not have to worry about bringing up any bad thoughts.”
“That would be nice,” Gale replied.
“So, do you have any ideas, Mr. Liffe?” Sorin asked.
“Strategy was never my strong spot,” Rado said. “I can assist, however, but it is Gale who has ideas.”
Gale stood up. “I’ll try,” she said. “Even if I can’t fight, I know that I want to help. This is something I want to see through to the end.”
“True,” Rado replied. “Isaac cannot go on longer. Now let’s head to the war room.”
Sorin, Gale, and Storm agreed and followed Rado out of the dining hall. It was good to know that they had someone like Rado on their side, Sorin thought to himself. He did wonder, however, when the others would join up with him and Gale, since the status of the summit was left up in the air.
[23rd of December, 2740 AD; Sparrow Hotel – Interior Parlor, Glora, Ahnlikohn]
Gavin looked around the room. The group had been splintered off since the attacks, which only served to fuel Gavin’s unease. With Sorin accused and on the run, Gavin knew that he had to be the leader. He had to since both Ayanna and Law left for Rezar and Rain had not yet arrived at the hotel. That said, he took a look at who was sitting down: Luna and Pekka, who decided to meet with Gavin, and Kiku with her bodyguards and Noa. He wanted to see Kirk and Eva, though they did not respond when he knocked on the door to their hotel room. Sighing, Gavin sat down and clapped his hands together.
“Guess we’re going to work with what we’ve got right now,” Gavin said. “It will have to do.”
“What are you talking about?” Pekka asked.
“I’m talking about working together,” Gavin replied. “Right now, I don’t care about what hangups you may have about Sorin and Johan. What we need now is cooperation and I’ll be damned if we can’t come together, so I suggest to you and Luna that the two of you help us out.”
“But how can I do that when neither Sorin nor Johan are here?” Luna asked. “If they can’t even be here in this room, then how am I supposed to trust either of them?”
“Look, I can understand how you feel about Johan, I honestly do,” Gavin said. “To be honest, I think he’s in it for his own gain. What it is, I don’t know, but I know that he cares more about having control than he does about teamwork. That said, I do not blame Sorin for the actions he took, because I know he was worried about keeping everyone safe at the time.”
“So you think it was a good idea for him to lie to everyone,” Pekka said. “I too can understand the reason, but it doesn’t mean that I accept it.”
“He’s aware of that,” Gavin replied. “At least, that’s what he’s told me and I choose to trust him. There’s no reason for him to lie without a good reason, and his was sufficient to me.”
“Luna… What about me?” Noa asked. “When you and the others found out about my past, did you harbor a grudge towards me?”
“Well, I can’t say I didn’t have a little distrust of you,” Luna said. “But you didn’t lie to anyone.”
“I may as well have,” Noa said. “If it’s anything like Sorin, then I too have deceived you. Then again, I guess he lied to protect others while I lied to protect myself…”
“Oh, don’t beat yourself up over it, Nona,” Kiku said. “So what if you had a different name before? You’re who you are now and that’s all that matters!”
“I guess… No, you’re absolutely right, Kiku,” Noa replied.
“And Wilkie isn’t the type of guy who deceives, either,” Kiku continued. “He had to do it for all of you, didn’t he? He thought about every one of you the entire time and I’m sure that he wanted to tell you the truth, but couldn’t.”
“If anything, he was thinking a few steps ahead,” Gavin said. “All because he knew that danger was waiting just around the corner.”
“Oh, to have that sort of planning,” Kiku said. “I bet even now, Wilkie’s just thinking up some sort of idea to get out of this jam like the hero he is! You agree, don’t you Gab?”
“You know, that sounds like something Mina would say,” Luna said. “She’d probably say ‘Sorin’s going to go and beat the villains’ or something like that, and she would laugh with an infectious enthusiasm that I’d have no choice but to agree with her because she’s adorable like that and I can’t just say no when Mina gets all heroic and pumping her fists into the air. I… I envy that about her, if I had to be honest.”
Kiku did her best not to laugh. “It’s… It’s very cute,” she said. “I could listen to you talk for hours, Gab, and I would never get bored of what you say.”
“You think so?” Luna asked. “Er, I mean, we are still talking about Sorin, aren’t we?”
“Yes, we are,” Gavin said. “Am I supposed to take what you just said as a yes or no, Luna?”
“Well, Sorin never did stab us in the back,” Luna said. “I guess I can forgive him. Gosh, that makes me an idiot, doesn’t it?”
“No, it doesn’t,” Ayame said. “We all make mistakes.”
“Even Iggy makes mistakes,” Kiku said. “One time, before a public event, he woke up and went to the plaza square and forgot to put on some pants!”
“Madame, I thought you wouldn’t share that story,” Igor said. “And it wasn’t like I was going to the commander or anything! I still had shorts on!”
Kiku giggled. “It’s okay, Iggy,” she said. “So what of you, PK? Are you ready to forgive your friend Wilkie?”
“I am still upset about it, but I guess I can forgive him,” Pekka replied. “He had his reasons for doing what he did and there’s no reason for me to continue to harbor any sort of anger toward him.”
Gavin stood up and turned to the parlor entrance. “I’m glad to know that we’re on the same page,” he said. “Noa, you don’t have any plans, do you?”
“Why do you ask?” Noa asked.
“I need to know what you’re doing so I can confirm with the others,” Gavin answered. “If you want to sit back and relax, then that’s fine by me, but I gotta know now whether or not you’re going to aid us.”
Noa let out a mild groan. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I can’t imagine I’d be of much use to you guys, nor could I offer any insight.”
“Nona, we saw what happened,” Kiku said. “When a friend of mine is in trouble, it hurts me so much. I want to help Wilkie and everyone because they’ve been so nice to us, and I don’t want to abandon him when he needs us the most! We have to help Wilkie, even if it’s only of the slightest significance!”
“Even Madame Yamazaki expressed her concerns,” Ayame said. “For me, it was a shock to see as she is usually calm and collected whenever I see her. That is enough to tell me that we must do our part.”
Noa took a deep breath and exhaled through his nose. “I can’t deny any of that,” he said. “All of you have stood by my side during the worst, so it only makes sense for me to do the same for Sorin. I owe him that much.”
“Wonderful,” Gavin said. “Now let’s go see what’s keeping Rain.”
To be continued…